Choosing a Topic of Research Paper

Structure of research paper:

Topic (this is the question you are researching)/the position you are defending (persuasive)

  1. Introduction
  2. Attention getter (a general statement loosely related to your topic.)

Example: Every thirty seconds, someone in the United States is killed by a drunk driver, which is two people per minute, one hundred- twenty people per hour.

3. Thesis (the main point of your paper. This should the main focus of your paper.)

Example: The current penalties for drunk driving are not an effective means of keeping people from driving while intoxicated.

4. Directional statement (the three main details that back up or give information about your topic.) It should only be ONE sentence.

Example: The current laws are not working because drunk driving is the number one cause of vehicle related death in the country, it does not address the real issue of people who have alcohol problems and it allows people who have a good lawyer to get their licenses right away if they can afford a good lawyer.

5. Transition statement (a statement wrapping up your intro and moving the reader along to the rest of the paper.)

Example: The current law doesn’t sufficiently punish people enough for putting the lives of others in danger.

Choosing a topic:

1. What are a few topics that interest you?

2. What sort of controversy/issues do those interests present?

3. How are Americans already discussing these issues?

4. How might you add your own voice to this ongoing discussion?

Research Proposal:

• I will begin by researching the general topic of _____________________________, and more specifically, _________________________________________________________________.
• I plan to research different formats of ongoing discussion about this issue. I really hope to find:

• Going into this project, my current understanding and opinion of this topic is:

Ten Questions

Directions: It is helpful to begin the research process by conceding that there are many things you do not yet know about your topic, the sources you may find on that topic, or what you will have to say about the topic. For this reason, it can be beneficial to write down the questions that you have before you begin. Then, while you are researching, you can refer back to this list of questions to remind yourself where you started. It should guide and focus you throughout your search for information.

Doing the Research

Throughout your research process, it is important to keep in mind three important things:
(1) WHAT is the issue?
(2) HOW are Americans addressing this problem? –through their literature, artwork, reporting, formal research, etc.
(3) HOW will I propose my own solution to the problem?

Below, write out MLA Works Cited entries for your selected sources. You need one of each genre (4 minimum), but may cite more if needed.

A. Work of American Literature (prose or poetry)

B. Newspaper/Magazine Article

C. Multimedia

D. Journal Article (JSTOR)

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